US slaps sanctions on Malaysian, Indonesian firms over Iran drone program

Minderjeet Kaur
Kuala Lumpur
US slaps sanctions on Malaysian, Indonesian firms over Iran drone program Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image from the Iranian Army obtained on April 20, 2023.
Handout via Reuters

The United States has sanctioned four firms in Malaysia and one in Indonesia as part of a fresh round of restrictions targeting Iran’s drone program.

Washington accuses Iran of supplying deadly drones to terrorist proxies in the Middle East and to Russia for use in Ukraine.

The U.S. Treasury Department said it had targeted 10 entities and four individuals – located in Iran, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia – for their alleged involvement in a network that facilitated the procurement of components worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force Self Sufficiency Jihad Organization.

The U.S. has issued two previous rounds of sanctions targeting the Revolutionary Guard’s production of Shahed-series one-way attack drones, which carry built-in warheads and self-destruct on impact, the department said in a statement Tuesday.

“The United States, in close coordination with our allies and partners, will continue to use the full range of our tools and authorities to disrupt these illicit procurement networks, as well as hold accountable the individuals and entities who seek to support them,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said.

The U.S. accused Iran-based Hossein Hatefi Ardakani of leading the network, which operated a string of front companies in Asia and the Middle East that exported sensitive technology to Iran. The goods ranged from servomotors to electric fuel pumps and antennas – most of which are classified as dual-use technology that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

The Malaysian entities sanctioned by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control were listed as Arta Wave, Integrated Scientific Microwave Technology, Nava Hobbies, and Skyline Advanced Technologies. 

Indonesia-based firm Surabaya Hobby, which on its website advertises itself as an authorized seller of Chinese-made DJI drones, was also sanctioned for allegedly aiding shipments of at least 100 servomotors destined for Iran’s Pishgam Electronic Safeh Company, another sanctioned company.

Agung Surya Dewanto, the owner of Surabaya Hobby, was sanctioned individually for his coordination of the shipments, the department said.

Sanctions deny people or companies access to assets within the U.S. and prevent American citizens or financial institutions from doing business with them.

Concurrent with fresh restrictions, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Ardakani and Chinese-national Gary Lam, also known as Lin Jinghe, for crimes related to the illegal procurement and export of American-made dual-use and sensitive technology to Iran.

“Today’s coordinated action with the Treasury Department demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to keeping military-grade equipment out of the hands of the Iranian regime,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Iran has been the subject of a range of U.S. sanctions since 1979, following the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by radical students.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.